Looking for a way to increase your employees’ engagement? Start leveraging the power of positive feedback!
Research has consistently confirmed that employees want and expect to receive regular feedback about their performance on the job. In fact, 69% of workers report that regular recognition of their efforts would inspire them to work even harder. Unfortunately, far too many employees feel as though their work is not being appreciated, simply because they’re not receiving the positive feedback they need to maintain their motivation and drive.
In this post, we’ll explore positive feedback and examine its potential benefits for any workplace environment. In addition, we’ll provide some tips to help you better use this feedback, as well as some examples of positive feedback that you can use today.
What is positive feedback?
Of course, you need to understand positive feedback before you can effectively use it in your workplace. The good news is that the name pretty much says it all. Positive feedback occurs when you provide supportive language that offers recognition of another person’s efforts and achievements, in a way that is truly meaningful. That last part is vital, since random comments like “nice job” or “good effort” are unlikely to have any sort of real impact on the employee who hears it.
To be impactful, your feedback should not only praise the recipient, but provide some details about how they excelled. Note that this is very different from constructive criticism, which attempts to help the listener to focus on areas of weakness that could be improved. Positive feedback instead focuses on a person’s areas of strength, which can inspire them to continue to use and improve those skills and attributes.
What are the benefits of positive feedback in the workplace?
Positive feedback can be one of the most impactful tools for motivating any team and offers a whole host of benefits within the workplace. Since most companies already incorporate some type of critical feedback through performance reviews or regular meetings, it’s important to balance that criticism with regular positive feedback. The benefits of doing so can include:
A work culture focused on quality
When employees know that their work is appreciated and that you understand their strengths and value, they’re more likely to focus on maintaining those high standards. An entire team of employees, who are all committed to maintaining the highest quality standards, can dramatically improve any company’s bottom line. More importantly, that type of corporate culture can become self-perpetuating, as new hires will quickly embrace the positive environment.
An increase in productivity
Productivity is a key driver of business success, so it’s important to find ways to continually improve it. Positive feedback can ensure that employees remain motivated to maintain the highest levels of productivity, which in turn helps to reduce costs, increase profit opportunities, and enable the creation of a strong, committed workforce.
Stronger employee engagement
A large majority of employees regularly say that they’re more engaged in their jobs when they receive regular positive feedback and recognition for their efforts. That makes sense when you think about it, since most human beings like to hear praise when they do something well. By providing employees with that regular praise, you can motivate them to be more involved with their jobs and more focused on improving their results.
Enhanced trust and improved employee morale
Employees who receive positive feedback will also develop stronger bonds of trust with the person providing the feedback and see improvements in their morale. That can have a long-term positive effect on their work and help to ensure a happier work environment.
Reduced employee attrition
By incorporating more positive feedback into your workplace you can also reduce attrition, since employees will appreciate working for a company that appreciates them. It seems simple, but it’s true. While money is a great motivating factor for improving employee attrition, overall job satisfaction can often outweigh monetary concerns. Show your employees that you recognize their contributions, and they will be more likely to stay in their current jobs.
When should you use positive feedback?
As we mentioned earlier in this post, it’s vital that your positive feedback is delivered in a meaningful way. To achieve that goal, it’s important to understand when you should be delivering this type of feedback. As a general rule, you should focus on providing this type of feedback only when you can identify specific things that the employee has done that are worthy of praise. If you simply find yourself repeatedly offering shallow praise, it may lessen the value of more specific positive feedback.
To avoid that possibility, you should use positive feedback:
Whenever you see an employee using specific skills, attributes, or talents in a way that delivers superior results
In real-time – don’t wait for days, weeks, or months to provide that praise
In public – good managers understand that criticism should always be delivered in private, while praise needs to be delivered in public. The value of any positive feedback can be magnified when the employee knows that everyone around them is aware of their great results. Note, however, that there may be times when an employee will feel uncomfortable with public praise. In those instances, it’s preferable to deliver the feedback in private.
Tips to help you provide positive feedback
Now that you know when to use positive feedback, you need to understand how you should deliver the praise. Many managers find that the best way to approach this is to focus on a three-step process that identifies the task, the employee’s action, and how that effort impacts the company.
The task: First, focus the employee’s attention on the specific work that you’re about to praise. This lays the foundation for the feedback and ensures that the listener is properly prepared to hear your message.
The action: Briefly describe the positive action that you want to praise. This helps the employee to see that you’re recognizing their effort and results.
The impact: Make mention of why the employee’s actions are so worthy of praise, by focusing attention on how those actions positively impact the company.
“Steve, I want to take a couple moments to tell you how much I appreciate your great work on the Atlas presentation. I know that you spent many hours researching this project and there was a lot of hard work that went into presenting that data properly. Our meeting with the client went perfectly, and I want you to know that your effort was a vital part of securing that contract. Great job!”
In addition to that simple approach to crafting and delivering positive feedback, you might also benefit from incorporating the following tips into your feedback strategy:
Be mindful of body language. Try to smile and look enthused when you provide positive feedback and adopt a relaxed posture that delivers the right nonverbal cues. Make sure that your delivery matches the positive nature of the message!
At the end of your feedback, try to focus the recipient’s mind on the future. The goal is to help motivate them to replicate their hard work in ways that ensure that same level of quality.
Focus on the action and not the person. Remember, it is the behavior that you are praising, since that is what you want the employee to try to replicate in their future efforts.
Don’t drag out the process, since that can sometimes make employees uncomfortable. Try to offer brief feedback that gets right to the point, and then let everyone go about their day.
4 positive feedback examples that you can use to motivate your team
To help you learn to identify opportunities for positive feedback, we have compiled some basic statements that you can use as building blocks for your own workplace. These examples of positive feedback cover things like leadership, initiative, attention to detail, and professional development. Obviously, there are a whole host of other employee actions that may be worthy of praise, but these examples may spark your imagination:
“Tom, the management team and I want to thank you for helping us to lead the new quality control team during the recent merger. Your ability to harness the different personalities on that team and help them to meet our expectations during the transition is something that we all appreciate. I look forward to watching you continue that type of success in your next leadership role!”
“Sarah, I want to tell you how much I appreciate the great job you’ve done with this month’s marketing campaign. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone demonstrate your attention to detail on a project like this and can’t remember a campaign that went as smoothly as this one did. I have every confidence that this type of dedication to quality will help you to go far in this company. Well done!”
“Annie, I have to say that I am truly impressed by your progress and growth in the last few months. You always seem to put in the extra effort needed to navigate your job’s learning curve, and we’ve all noticed that you’re one of the first people here every morning and one of the last to leave when the workday is done. That dedication, along with your obvious skills, will help to ensure that you continue to have a bright future here at XYZ!”
“I want to congratulate you, Rashid, for stepping up to the plate and initiating our new community outreach program. I appreciate the fact that you used your own initiative and took the time to craft the outlines of the program before presenting it to the management team for approval. And we all recognize the hard work that you did to bring it to fruition, providing the company with a much-needed public relations boost. Thanks for exceeding my expectations once again!”
Reap the rewards of positive feedback
Once you take the time to incorporate positive feedback into your workplace, you’ll wonder how your business ever survived without it. More importantly, you’ll quickly see just how invaluable this type of positive reinforcement can be for producing a more motivated and engaged workforce and a dramatic improvement in your company’s operational success!
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